Movie Friday: An Epiphany

This blog is getting more and more race-y and less and less religion-y. Don’t think it hasn’t escaped my notice. I approach blogging in a sort of Taoist way, letting the items that crop up in the news and in my random online pokings around direct the content and focus of my posts. I know some of you came here when I was on a particular anti-theist binge, and I hope I haven’t bored you too much.

But there’s always movie Friday, right?

I like this video a lot for a few reasons. First, it does a pretty good job of debunking the frustratingly-common question I hear from theists when I criticize the concept of a god: “why are you so anti-God?” or “why do you reject God” I don’t reject the gods, I reject the idea of them because they are some combination of incoherent and evidenceless. For example, I don’t believe in Yahweh/Allah because He is described as merciful, kind and all-powerful, a portrayal which is not reflected in reality at all. I don’t believe in the Hindu gods because natural phenomena explain all the things that are supposedly the domain of the gods. Ditto for the Greek and Egyptian and Norse pantheons. I don’t see any evidence for the Buddhist cycle of rebirth, and the deist non-interventional god I used to believe in is entirely superfluous, and so might as well not exist. To call that rejection of your personal understanding of whatever god you believe in is taking things too personally – I “reject” all gods for the same reason – I don’t believe they exist.

Second, it posits a possible explanation for why believers see non-belief as ‘rejection’ rather than nonbelief. People’s god concepts are very real to them, and DarkMatter suggests a mechanism to explain why this is true: because people’s god concepts are simply reflections of themselves. I’ve long suspected that people twist the concept of a god to reflect what’s in themselves, but there’s a bit of a chicken-egg thing wherein people are taught what their god wants, which helps inform what they believe later. This video provides some support to the idea that God is personal. As Heinlein put it: “thou art god”.

Finally, there’s a really cool question that comes up from this video that I’d like to try asking a theist. Is there anything that God commands you to believe that you personally disagree with? Are there any instructions that you find immoral but follow anyway? Are there any things you believe that you recognize are absurd but adhere to because you think your god requires it? I know this was a major source of dissonance for me when I was a teenager – so many teachings of the Catholic church were completely abhorrent to me, but I was told I had to believe them. My solution was to reject the abhorrent teachings as simply a product of human stupidity, which was the first major step I took toward leaving theism altogether.

I am fairly certain that hardly any theists read this blog (I am only aware of 2 theistic commenters), but if you get a chance to have a conversation with someone – particularly someone who is a mushy ‘liberal’ theist, see what their reactions are to the question. I’d really like to hear the responses.

Anyway, next week will be no exception to the flood of race-specific stuff. I plan to opine on the riots in England, talk about some hate crimes, and hopefully finally get to tackle the issue of poverty that I’ve been wanting to talk about for months now. Don’t fret though – I haven’t run out of anti-theist rage and will return to my old form soon.

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  1. Jesse says

    My Christian friends/adversaries in Halifax have talked about their dissonance on homosexuality. They acknowledge that God clearly dislikes homosexuals and homosexual acts, but they are very uncomfortable taking on those beliefs. It is difficult to get a clear answer on the issue from them, but they say that even when God’s commands/suggestions/whatever seem confusing or absurd they should be followed anyway because God has reasons beyond our understanding. At the same time, they’ve never said anything explicitly homophobic, and they very clearly *want* to be able to accept and be friendly towards homosexuality.

  2. says

    I wonder how they’d answer the question of what they’d do if they were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that God wanted them to murder someone.

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